Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Tobermory, Lunga and Staffa from a Boat


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 116 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 41

Catalogue entry

At the top left corner of this page, drawn with the sketchbook turned to the right, is a sketch inscribed ‘Tobermory’. This is presumably the village of Tobermory on Mull, as seen from the Sound of Mull, though there is little in this sketch to suggest it. A possible explanation is that it is a view from the north-east with the northern end of Calve Island at the left. Further sketches of Tobermory from the Sound of Mull are on folios 48–49 (D26833–D26836). For a full list of Turner’s Tobermory sketches see folio 1 verso (D26749).
A checklist of identifications by David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan suggest that the other two sketches show ‘Tobermory islands’ and ‘Possibly Staffa from the north, with SW coast of Mull?’1 The combination of three small islands in the sketch across the top half of this page, however, suggests instead some of the islands that Turner saw on his journey to Staffa. The shape of the island at the left is suggestive of Lunga as seen from the south-east, and the middle island has the distinctive shape of Bac Mòr, also known as Dutchman’s Cap (see folio 42; D26821). This would make the small island at the left Bac Beag. The sketch at the bottom of the page is a good match for Staffa (at the right) with the coast of Mull around Armeanach as seen from the north.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 19].

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